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10 fruit & veggies to support your immune system
NUTRITION

10 fruit & veggies to support your immune system

Our most powerful weapon against infection is a strong, healthy body. Our bodies are amazing with their own inbuilt defence systems that go into to battle for us automatically, but it is up to us to provide our bodies with the nutrients to keep these systems operating at their peak.  Our bodies require a constant supply of nutrients to fuel each cell in our body, enabling our immune system to operate effectively. The best source of nutrition comes from a diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables. We are lucky to live in a country where fresh fruit and vegetables are in constant abundance. The first step in supporting your immune system should start with improving your diet and a trip to your local farmers’ market or the grocery section of the supermarket. On your next trip, toss a couple of these deliciously healthy fruit and veggies in your basket, or perhaps all of them.

Garlic

It’s no secret that garlic is well known for its use in supporting the immune system and for fighting infections. Its natural sulfur containing compounds make it a perfect addition to the diet, not only for flavour, but for its medicinal value too. It makes a great addition to homemade salad dressings, marinades or rubbed over slices of toasted baguette before adding chopped tomatoes for a tasty bruschetta. Try crushing some fresh garlic over your next batch of veggies prior to roasting them, add thin slices to a simple pasta dish or add chopped garlic to your next stir-fry.

Ginger

Ginger is full of natural antioxidants, perfect for keeping the body healthy. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties which makes a great addition to hot drinks when we feel that first little tickle in our throats. Try making a soothing, warm drink by adding a few fresh slices of ginger along with some lemon slices and raw honey in a mug, sip slowly and enjoy. Fresh ginger also makes a great addition to fresh juices, try adding celery, carrots, beetroot and a knob of ginger for a powerful punch of goodness!

Garlic and Ginger also make cracking additions to a big bowl of homemade chicken soup. Add a bunch of green veggies and parsley for some extra vitamin C and you have a hug in a bowl!

Citrus fruit

Oranges and lemons are full of vitamin C and delicious in so many ways. Vitamin C degrades quite quickly once the fruit is cut, so fresh is best. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of common colds so keep some fresh lemons or oranges on hand. A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice is delightful and jam packed with vitamin C but a warm drink, such as the ginger, lemon and honey drink mentioned above is great when you are feeling a little under the weather and in need of a vitamin C boost.

Blueberries

Like most deep hued fruit, blueberries are jam packed with nutrients such as antioxidants. Antioxidants play an important role in our body, particularly when it comes to immune health. Fresh blueberries are fun to eat and freeze well so that they can be enjoyed all year round. Throw some in an antioxidant filled smoothie with your favourite fruit, add a handful to a fruit salad for an amazing colour burst or include them in your next pancake batter for a burst of flavour with each bite.

Broccoli

There’s no doubt a lot of parents have told their kids to ‘eat your broccoli’ at some point and with good reason. Broccoli is bursting with antioxidants and other nutrients which make it a nutritional powerhouse. Broccoli is part of the brassica family which also includes Brussels sprout, kale and cauliflower, these vegetables naturally contain an array of plant compounds which have demonstrated benefits for the immune system. Broccoli can be enjoyed lightly steamed, added to stir fries or for something a little different, try adding broccoli to your next tray of roast vegetables.

Pomegranates 

Like blueberries, the brilliantly coloured pomegranate can attribute its amazing jewel colour to its powerful antioxidant content. Full of natural compounds called polyphenols, pomegranate provides more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. To get the most out of your pomegranate, cut the fruit in half and give a slight squeeze, gently easing out the ‘jewels’ or seeds. These make a beautiful addition to salads, couscous dishes, juices or simply enjoyed on their own.

Green leafy vegetables

Leafy greens are a valuable addition to any healthy diet. The darker, the better as the deep colour generally accompanies a denser concentration of nutritional compounds. A large percentage of our immune health is reliant on good gut health and because green leafy vegetables are also a fantastic source of fibre, they ensure that the digestive tract continues to function properly. Leafy green veggies are best eaten fresh to retain their nutritional value, however, they are still beneficial lightly steamed or quickly stir fried. Why not try a handful of spinach leaves in your next smoothie or juice?

Avocados

Avocados contain one of the highest levels of the super antioxidant, glutathione. Glutathione has been extensively researched and shown to help in the prevention of some diseases. Avocados are also high in health promoting monounsaturated fats, or ‘good fats’ which also gives for its smooth and creamy texture. Use avocados to replace butter on your sandwiches, toss a few cubes over your salad or enjoy a homemade guacamole with veggie sticks for any easy snack.

Plant protein

Plant based protein from sources such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are full of health giving nutrients. Our immune system relies on protein so a good, clean source of protein is essential for good health. Chickpeas, beans and lentils are also super convenient as they are extremely versatile in recipes. Dried or canned, they made great additions to casseroles and curries, yet they are also tasty as an ingredient in salads and dips. Try making your own hummus from chickpeas or a spicy lentil curry to help keep your immune system in great shape.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes come in all shapes, colours and sizes, but they all contain an abundance of immune boosting goodness. Tomatoes are naturally full of antioxidants, including beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E which all help to protect our cells against oxidative damage. It’s easy to incorporate tomatoes into your diet, they make a great base for sauces, soups and casseroles, not to mention an essential addition to salads. Try dicing a few different coloured tomatoes and tossing with a little extra virgin olive oil, torn basil and a sprinkle of salt to make a tasty, healthy salsa full of immune boosting nutrition.
Felicity Downes-Casipit
Author

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